By Alan Murdock
The author discusses drills used with his 5.11 concealment vest.
When I first received my permit I tried concealing in a fanny pack, but the fact that I had to be concerned with who was standing on the muzzle side, plus the challenges with the draw (unzipping, drawing sideways, i.e. clawing the firearm from the pouch, then presenting to the front – the whole thing sends a shiver down my spine) made me look for a better solutions.
I tried a number of off the shelf jackets and vests. Although I have never been approached about what is on my belt, many of these vests did not make me feel confident I would not imprint given the wrong circumstances. Not exactly the right solution.
Let me tell you what I know the solution is not. The solution is not carrying in an IWB holster under a regular old cotton t-shirt. Lots of people think this will work, but working security and being out and about I’ve seen so many imprinting, flopping pistols ready for the plucking on the outside hip of concealed carry permit holders who aren’t paying attention to weapon retention, it’s not funny.
Do they have the right or privilege? Yes, lots of people have the right to be stupid. And let me say something about open carry versus concealed. When it is concealed, make it concealed. Don’t sorta try. As Yoda said, “do or do not, there is no try.”
Now, back to the vest. It is constructed in a very sturdy manner with a double wall for a concealed flap inside the jacket where Velcro holsters can be added for pistol, mace, baton, and other gear. If the weight of your equipment is too much to Velcro in, this sturdy construction easily goes over your regular rig on your belt or inside your waistband with no imprinting.
A lot of people feel that the 5.11 concealment vest will tip off people to the fact you are carrying a firearm. Over the past few weeks, I’ve tested this out. I’ve carried concealed around downtown with the vest on, and no one has approached me. I wore it WITH NO FIREARM to an area where a no firearms sign was posted (there were some tourists around in similar style photographer’s or fisherman’s vests) and passed several security guards without anyone batting an eye. I asked for assistance from an attendant who asked where I was from.
“Here,” I said.
“Oh, I asked because you look dressed like a tourist.”
“I spent the morning taking photographs outdoors,” I replied, which was the case.
The only person I passed who may have recognized the jacket was a police officer. I said, “good morning” and she responded the same. It was a nice interaction.
So far the 5.11 Tactical Vest is working out fantastically. It has vents in it for hot days, it conceals nicely. In the first practice-drill, I run a primary/secondary drill to test the concealment pouches. It takes some drills to get used to how best to open and draw from the concealed area, but with practice, it is simple and smooth. Drawing from the hip was a snap. The weight of the backup gun in the concealed area worked perfectly to hold the vest open on the draw.
Check it out and see what you think. In October I’ll be running this vest during a class and I’ll report back on how it functions.
This video review by a police officer demonstrates his use of the 5.11 Tactical Vest concealment pouches on his way to and from work.
About Alan Murdock:
Alan Murdock is a certified NRA pistol instructor and Utah Concealed Firearms instructor. Alan teaches firearms classes in Salt Lake City, Utah as The Gun Tutor. Follow him on Facebook. He also produces videos and writes about firearms and personal defense issues. His blog can be found at www.TheGunTutor.com